Every journey etc.
Yesterday in Bucharest’s Sector 1 the Union to Save Bucharest (USB; soon to be Union to Save Romania, or USR) won a small yet highly significant victory.
Shortly before the beginning of a council meeting the mayor of the Sector, Dan Tudorache (PSD) proposed a last minute amendment to the sector’s budget which would have seen 10 million lei (€2.2 million) handed over to the Romanian Orthodox Church (BOR) for the ongoing construction of the megalomaniac Cathedral of the Nation (Catedrala Neamului).
The USB’s councillors, led in Sector 1 by the increasingly combative and impressive Clotilde Armand (who would have been mayor herself had June’s election results been counted, ahem, more efficiently) managed to block the motion.
Armand claimed – correctly – that the allocation of such a huge amount of the sector’s money (for a building which is in Sector 5) should only be approved after a full and thorough public consultation.
At this stage it is worth pointing out two things:
1. Armand is French but was re-christened Romanian Orthodox before her marriage to a Romanian. She is not, as the BOR’s more Taleban elements would have us believe, neither anti-Christian nor anti-Orthodox.
2. The same Tudorache who yesterday proposed allocating 10 million lei for a cathedral not in his sector last week refused to fund the renovation of a burns unit at a hospital which is in his sector. Tudorache stated that it was unreasonable to expect Sector 1 to fund the hospital’s renovation because ‘it is a national institution, used by people from outside Sector 1.’
Armand’s victory is, as we say, a small one. But for a local party which has nationwide ambitions for November’s general election its medium-term effects may be huge. It demonstrates that a small number of councillors committed to transparency and ensuring the best use of public money, and who refuse to play the PSD’s game, can win. We also think it will lead to far more people taking an interest in what actually goes on at council meetings.
*According to the representative of the BOR who spoke at yesterday’s meeting, work on the cathedral is now in serious danger of grinding to a complete halt. There is by all accounts nothing left in the kitty. (You may remember that one of the first acts of the Dacian Ciolos government was to halt state funding for the cathedral). Maybe it’s time for a few bishops to sell their Mercedes?